For a show to run for five seasons and across 48 episodes, and yet manage to keep a hold on its audience requires smart writing and noteworthy performances. To bracket Netflix show La Casa De Papel or Money Heist in the category won’t be wrong. Despite running for four-and-a-half years with intense plot points, shocking twists and relatable themes, the Spanish crime-drama continues to reverberate even after its finale recently.
The complex relationships between all the characters amid an immaculate storytelling worked for Money Heist. This was a show where the bad guys unexpectedly became the heroes and the crimes they did challenged the authorities and their oppressive ways. The themes of capitalism, illegal detention and state brutality were relatable in several parts of the world.
If you’ve been an ardent viewer of the series, you’d have your pick for your most favourite seasons, episodes and characters. While the show dipped in parts in some seasons and episodes, overall it left audience on the edge of seat.
Here, we rank Money Heists’ five seasons, from best to not so good.
1. Season 5
Life tends to get miserable when you don’t get a closure. We can only thank the writers for bringing curtains on Money Heist just the way we wanted. The trailers had already hinted that the war is set to get bloody and emotional, and the audience didn’t feel let down when the show reached the finish line. There were tears and loads of it. The noisy season was loaded with gunshots, bombs and explosions. While Denver came of age, shedding his carefree ways to become one of the most important characters, we also saw the vulnerable side of Alicia and her unexpected new friendship with Sergio. Its Part 1 was all about Tokyo’s backstory and how it connected with her present. Her sacrificial self-detonation to protect her peers not just had a ripple effect on the determination of the gang, it also changed the course of the plot with The Professor playing his masterstroke by keeping the gold within his family. Though I wanted to see more of Rafael and Sagasta. After losing many dear ones, leaving the audience hanging, season five managed to end the show just as we liked it.
2. Season 3
Assembling the gang two years after the culmination of its first heist came with its own set of challenges. As Netflix greenlit the show, it needed a convincing storyline and enough thrilling moments. Season 3 begins with a bang with the arrest, illegal detention and torture of Rio by the cops, as Tokyo rushes back to her guardian angel, the Professor, to seek help. From the word go, the season made all the right noises as the gang embarked on their most ambitions robbery at the Bank of Spain. We got introduced to new gang members — Palermo, Marseille, Bogota and Manila. It had heart-thumping moments including the mind-boggling plan of getting the gold out of the bank, the gang thwarting a police breach, Alicia Sierra becoming the most hated character, Rio’s release, Nairobi getting shot by a police sniper and Lisbon’s (Raquel) potential execution. After packing so much in the fast paced season, it ended on a massive emotional cliffhanger — will Nairobi succumb to the gunshot, and what next for The Professor who had made a mistake for the first time? Lisbon ends up alive, but her unlawful interrogation under Alicia led to a formal declaration that “the war had begun.” Also, the incredible scene of the gang firing a rocket at an armored police vehicle advancing towards the bank was memorable. And so was the return of Berlin, even if in flashbacks!
3. Season 4
Money Heist’s third and fourth seasons are closely connected with overlapping storylines. Its season 4 kicks off with the need to save Nairobi after she is captured by Alicia Siera. The gang manages to operate on her, though seeing one of their strongest members at their most vulnerable moment was heartbreaking. But being Nairobi, you cannot take away her will. The season also gave us The Professor’s best – the Paris Plan. It was sophisticated, but nearly impossible one to execute. The escape plan he devised finds Lisbon at the other end. We also saw the rise of a bad guy (on the good side!) — Gandia, the chief of security at the Bank of Spain. Palermo’s slip becomes the police’s gain and Gandia is like an animal on the loose. He takes Tokyo hostage, challenges the gang, tortures and ultimately shoots Nairobi at point blank, leaving the robbers, The Professor and the audience shocked and in tears. The gang pledges to avenge Nairobi’s sacrifice, taking the “war” forward.
4. Season 2
I won’t say there was anything wrong with this season. But now seeing in hindsight, Money Heist’s season two is remembered for the blossoming romances between Sergio-Raquel, Tokyo-Rio and Denver-Monica, and not much for the action. Some sequences of hostage hostility, coup within the gang and whether Sergio’s truth will be uncovered kept it humming along. The season also gave us an happy-emotional moment when the gang sang and danced to “Bella Ciao” for the first time. Berlin gives away Tokyo to the police but she manages to vroom back into the bank. We also get our first casualty in Oslo, and then later Moscow. The season managed to end on a high note with Berlin giving up his life for his brother and gang members managing to escape with the stolen money. The last scene of the robbers walking out of the hideout was amongst the best the show offered.
5. Season 1
If Money Heist hadn’t begun on the right note, things would’ve never gone in the right direction. And its debut season kicked off the show rightfully. Though it was more about forging the gang, it showed the flashbacks of their classroom sessions about robbing the Royal Mint of Spain, the emotional connects, friendships, hints of origin stories and The Professor’s character development (and alter-ego, Sergio). The naivete of the new robbers was evident but it was a building block to their reactions to unexpected roadblocks later. We also started understanding the importance of the show’s symbols — the Dali masks, red jumpsuits and “Bella Ciao”. The Professor dodging cop Raquel Murillo at the junkyard, Berlin’s revelation of being Sergio’s elder brother and Denver-Monica’s growing proximity form the highlights of the first season. It also gave us one of the most unwanted, hateful yet crucial characters of the show — Arturo, if you know, you know!
Money Heist makers have now announced a spin-off of Berlin that’ll release in 2023. In the meantime, we await for the official Korean adaptation of the Spanish show, that stars Squid Game star Park Hae‑soo as Berlin. It’ll premiere next year.